U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Peter King (R-NY), authors of H.R. 847, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, today released the following joint statement on the release by Special Master Sheila Birnbaum of draft regulations governing applications for compensation under the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF):
"Thousands of 9/11 responders and survivors have been waiting to be compensated for their injuries, so we applaud Ms. Birnbaum's efforts to release these draft regulations for public comment so quickly -- indeed, only 34 days after she was appointed. The draft rules will be available for public comment for 45 days, with the hope that they will be finalized before the tenth anniversary of the attacks.
"The release of these draft regulations begins the complicated and difficult process of implementing the Zadroga law and delivering long-overdue help to those in need. We will be reviewing her draft regulations, but for now are pleased that the Special Master is striving to get the job done quickly and is planning an open process to get input regarding her work. We will continue working with Ms. Birnbaum to create most compassionate and efficient program possible for those injured by the toxins at ground zero."
The Zadroga law provides health care for those injured or exposed to toxins released by the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, and reopens the VCF to provide economic relief to those harmed by the attacks (the original VCF was created in the weeks following 9/11 and closed in December 2003). Under the Zadroga law, by July 8, 2011, the special master must release for public comment regulations on how the fund will work and how the injured may apply for compensation. In May, Attorney General Eric Holder stated that the VCF will be ready to consider claims by October 1, 2011.